Mohammed VI (born 21 August 1963) is the current king of Morocco. He ascended to the throne on 23 July 1999 upon the death of his father, King Hassan II
Mohammed was the second child and oldest son of Hassan II and his second wife, Lalla Latifa Hammou. On the day of his birth, Mohammed was appointed Heir Apparent and Crown Prince. His father was keen on giving him a religious and political education from an early age— at the age of four, he started attending the Qur’anic school at the Royal Palace.
Mohammed completed his primary and secondary studies at Royal College and attained his Baccalaureate in 1981, before gaining a bachelor’s degree in law at the Mohammed V University at Agdal in 1985. His research paper dealt with “the Arab-African Union and the Strategy of the Kingdom of Morocco in matters of International Relations”. He has also frequented the Imperial College and University of Rabat. He was furthermore appointed President of the Pan Arab Games, and was commissioned a Colonel Major of the Royal Moroccan Army on 26 November 1985. He served as the Coordinator of the Offices and Services of the Royal Armed Forces until 1994.
In 1987, Mohammed obtained his first Certificat d’Études Supérieures (CES) in political sciences, and in July 1988 he obtained a Diplôme d’Études Approfondies (DEA) in public law. In November 1988, he trained in Brussels with Jacques Delors, then-President of the European Commission.
Mohammed obtained his PhD in law with distinction on 29 October 1993 from the French University of Nice Sophia Antipolis for his thesis on “EEC-Maghreb Relations”. On 12 July 1994, he was promoted to the military rank of Major General, and that same year he became President of the High Council of Culture and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Moroccan Army.
He speaks Arabic, English, Spanish and French.
On 23 July 1999, Mohammed succeeded his father as king, being enthroned in Rabat on 30 July.
Shortly after he took the throne, Mohammed VI addressed his nation via television, promising to take on poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco’s human rights record. Mohammed’s reformist rhetoric was opposed by Islamist conservatives, and some of his reforms angered fundamentalists. In February 2004, he enacted a new family code, or Mudawana, which granted women more power.
Mohammed also created the so-called Instance Equité et Réconciliation (IER), which was tasked with researching human rights violations under Hassan II. This move was welcomed by many as promoting democracy, but was also criticized because reports of human rights violations could not name the perpetrators. According to human rights organisations, widespread abuses still exist in Morocco. The 2011 Moroccan protests were motivated by corruption and general political discontentment, as well as by the hardships of the global economic crisis.
In December 2010, the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published diplomatic cables which alleged high-level corruption involving the King himself.
In a speech delivered on 9 March 2011, the King said that parliament would receive “new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative, and regulatory mission”. In addition, the powers of the judiciary were granted greater independence from the King, who announced that he was impaneling a committee of legal scholars to produce a draft constitution by June 2011. On 1 July, voters approved a set of political reforms proposed by Mohammed.
The reforms consisted of the following:
The Berber language is an official state language along with Arabic.
The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation
The King has now the obligation to appoint the prime minister from the party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections, but it could be any member of the winning party and not necessarily the party’s leader. Previously, the king could nominate anybody he wanted for this position regardless of the election results. That was usually the case when no party had a big advantage over the other parties, in terms of the number of seats in the parliament.
The King is no longer “sacred or holy” but the “integrity of his person” is “inviolable”
High administrative and diplomatic posts (including ambassadors, CEOs of state-owned companies, provincial and regional governors), are now appointed by the prime minister and the ministerial council which is presided by the king; previously the latter exclusively held this power.
The prime minister is the head of government and president of the council of government, he has the power to dissolve the parliament.
The prime minister will preside over the Council of Government, which prepares the general policy of the state. Previously the king held this position.
The parliament has the power of granting amnesty. Previously this was exclusively held by the king
The judiciary system is independent from the legislative and executive branch, the king guarantees this independence
Women are guaranteed “civic and social” equality with men. Previously, only “political equality” was guaranteed, though the 1996 constitution grants all citizens equality in terms of rights before the law
The King retains complete control over the armed forces and the judiciary as well as matters pertaining to religion and foreign policy; the king also retains the authority to appoint and dismiss prime ministers
All citizens have the freedom of thought, ideas, artistic expression and creation. Previously only free speech and the freedom of circulation and association were guaranteed. However, criticizing or directly opposing the king is still punishable with prison.
Mohammed VI has one brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, and three sisters: Princess Lalla Meryem, Princess Lalla Asma, and Princess Lalla Hasna. On 21 March 2002, Mohammed married Salma Bennani (now H.R.H. Princess Lalla Salma) in Rabat. Bennani was granted the personal title of Princess with the title of Her Royal Highness on her marriage. They have two children – Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, who was born on 8 May 2003, and Princess Lalla Khadija, who was born on 28 February 2007.
Mohammed’s birthday on 21 August is a public holiday